Factors Accounting for Nonparallel Language Recovery

Many factors related to the patients' premorbid language use have been proposed to explain the particular patterns of recovery observed in individual cases. These include familiarity or proficiency (Pitres' rule); primacy (the so-called rule of Ribot); context of use, whereby the language used in the patient's recovery environment was thought to be more likely to return; and affective factors, whereby the language associated with more pleasant experiences in the patient's life was thought to recover better. These factors provide plausible accounts for many observed patterns even though no one principle accounts for the majority of the patterns observed.

The existence of nonparallel recovery in polyglot aphasics, particularly selective or differential aphasia, has also been interpreted to mean that each language is located in a different part of the cortex, whether in the left hemisphere per se or also in the right hemisphere. However, an alternative account first proposed by Pitres is also plausible, according to which each language could be independently inhibited rather than differentially localized. Indeed, antagonistic recovery, and alternating antagonism in particular, cannot easily be explained in terms of differential localization. Pitres' account is particularly pertinent in explaining such cases of temporary inaccessibility. Data from patterns of recovery from polyglot aphasia, in their present form, are equally compatible with a differential localization account as with a functional inhibition account of nonparallel recovery.

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